My wife and I decided to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary by taking a seven day Alaskan cruise on the Island Princess departing Whittier, Alaska on June 25th. After reading several CC reviews we made the decision to book our own port transfers from Anchorage to Whittier directly with the Alaska Railroad. Checking our luggage to the ship was easy with porters at the train station, so the next time we saw our luggage in was in our state room after boarding. The check in process was extremely easy, from the time we showed them our boarding information to boarding the ships was only about 10 minutes. After getting on the ship we found our way to the room and the luggage showed up shortly after our arrival. The weather conditions were cold and rainy, but when Whittier is one of the rainiest ports on the cruise what can you expect.
We ate breakfast and lunch most days at the Horizon Court because it convenience and the food quality was good. My wife is a soup and salad person More
and I like the taste of a good Asian curry or stir fry if it’s available. One of the breakfast items we has which was outstanding was the mini quiche that are prepared and ready for the early risers. The wait staff in the Horizon Court, in most cases, were friendly, unless you wanted something out of the ordinary. We chose to purchase the All You Can Drink Pass (~$49 /day/person) that allowed us to drink anything we wanted under $10. On average a coffee was $2.75-$3.00, a beer was $4.00-5.00 and a Martini was $8.50 - 9.00, so depending on what you drink it may or may not make sense to purchase the pass.
Prior to departing, I pre-booked a couples massage which was changed by the SPA to a time that wasn't convenient and when we tried to reschedule the receptionist became very rude. My wife inquired about getting her hair blow dried for our anniversary and the receptionist asked "Do you want it washed?" which totally caught us off guard. After this incident, we cancelled our spa reservations and chose to save our money and do something else, which we found later that day. One of the employees in the Sanctuary approached us while having lunch to let us know about a special they were running for our day in Glacier Bay. They were offering a package that included specialty drinks, lunch, photos, and a reserved chase lounge or cabana for only $60 per person which was probably one of the best activities we did on the ship. Princess normally gets $20 for a half day and $40 for the full day. The staff in the Sanctuary was outstanding. Marvin and Milos two of the staff members made our day, a very special occasion.
In Skagway we purchased the Glacier and Whale Watching Excursion which was a little overpriced, but definitely an adventure. My only word of advice is take lots of Bug Spray, lots a mesquites and flies to contend with. In Juno we did the Mendenhall Glacier and Whale Watching Excursion which was great, although the time at the glacier was like going to any national park with lots of tourist and not having enough time. The highlight of the excursions was in Ketchikan where we did the crab fest and adventure which included about 1 hour of unlimited crab consumption, beverages and cheese cake at the end of meal. During the excursion Emily our excursion narrator, pulled of the nearly impossible by getting a Bald Eagle to swoop in from a nearby tree and retrieve a fish that was floating on top of the water very near the boat. What an awesome experience.
Our evenings were quite busy with great entertainment and activities on the ship. We chose to eat dinner two of the night in the Bayou Café which cooked one of the best steaks we’ve every had. The 8 ounce tenderloin and 22 ounce porterhouse were outstanding. Very tender, well seasoned and never over cooked. The vegetables that come with the meal are a little to be desired, but the focal point was the steak.
In preparation from our trip I purchased the Anniversary Package which included champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, champagne glasses and free 8X10 photo which was pre-order and delivered without incident when we call for it during the 3rd day of our trip. The issue came when my son and daughter in law ordered us a bottle of wine, cheese tray and $50 ship board credit, He ordered the package when we departed and it was supposed to be delivered on our actual anniversary day as a surprise. The day after our anniversary he inquired about the package which was never delivered. Upon inquiring with the Customer Service Desk on 3 different occasions we were told that it wasn't on the ship and did not exist. After exhausting our efforts with the customer service desk, we called a supervisor who confirmed the package had been ordered on the 29th and would be delivered ASAP. After several hours of waiting and follow-up phone calls, the package still never arrived. Prior to leaving our room for dinner our last night on the ship, I made one last phone call to the supervisor who said the wine and cheese would be delivered to the restaurant for dinner. It arrived when we arrived, but it came with no apologies from the staff and the $50 credit that was purchased with the package has never shown up.
Prior to our departure our travel agent advised us to take advantage of the future cruise deposit opportunities and any special deals that Princess may be offering during the cruise which were outstanding, but after our experience with Customer Service we chose not to do anything relative to a future cruise. This is our 4th cruise and 2nd with Princess and as Captain Circle Members would have expected an additional level of follow-up and focus from the staff.
The ship while showing a little bit of its age is still in great shape and the cabin while small was clean and well maintained. I know that Princess believes is Outstanding Customer Service which was not part of our experience on this cruise and will most likely affect any decisions we make on cruising in the future. Less